At midnight tonight, we will be one week away from the conclusion of the 2010 NFL season, and unless a new CBA is hammered out, the end of professional football for an undetermined length of time. March 3rd is the last day of the league year, and the new league year will not begin until a new CBA is completed.
The NFL and NFLPA have been in mediation for the last week and by all reports (though no specific info is available) the talks have been progressing. But is it enough to get a deal done? Popular opinion is that a deal won't be done by March 4th, but that the league and union may agree to extend the league year so as not to have an official lockout/walkout/strike situation.
We all know how this works, the closer you get to the deadline, the more likely a deal is. We've seen it in labor negotiations and contract talks across various players, teams and sports over the year, and I have no reason to believe it is any different here. It's far easier to spew rhetoric and say you won't sign 6 months from a deadline than it is 6 minutes from a deadline. This doesn't mean I'm predicting a deal at 11:59 P.M. on March 3rd, but I thnk the closer the get, the more likely a deal is to be finalized.
One week and counting, and at this rate, football will be put on hold.
Update: We're almost a day away from the lockout becoming official. Negotiations have been ongoing, but with several court rulings and other issues (decertification, lockout insurance etc) all going on, I'm not sure there is a clear direction to all of this. My guess is a lockout happens, but is resolved before any meaningful events are affected.
Update #2: The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a 24 hour extension of the negotiation window. This is pretty much expected at this point. We'll see what comes of it.
Update #3: It looks like the NFLPA has agreed to a 7-10 day extension. The owners have not agreed yet, but I bet by the end of the day they will have. This is both good and bad news. No guarantee a deal gets done, but an extension is more optimistic than no football.
Update #4: Both sides have agreed to an extension until next Friday (March 11, 2011). The deadline is currently set for 5 PM. My guess? A new CBA is done by that point.